President Trump wound up his one-day, stop-over visit to Poland with a public speech in Warsaw on Thursday morning. A few points in the speech were of interest with regard to what stance he will take when he meets with Putin. Will he confront Putin with Russian hacking and interfering in our 2016 election process?
During this Warsaw speech, as reported by the Associated Press and published in the Washington Post, Trump did affirm the United States' commitment to NATO's Article 5, which is the mutual defense agreement. That corrects a concern from the NATO meeting a few weeks ago, when Trump pointedly refrained from affirming the US commitment to Article 5.
But here at the critical things regarding Russia, as reported by the Associated Press and published by the Washington Post on Thursday."President Donald Trump is calling on Russia to stop its destabilizing activities in Ukraine." He also called on them to end support for "hostile regimes," specifying Syria and Iran. Instead, he urged Russia to join the "community of responsible nations" in fighting common enemies and the defense of civilization.
His prepared speech did not mention the election hacking. But earlier, in a joint press opportunity with Poland President Andrzej Duda, Trump responded to a question about Russian meddling in our election. He agreed "that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election," but he also repeated his assertion that he believes "other countries" may have done the same. He did not elaborate, other than to say "nobody really knows for sure." And then he downplayed the unanimity of the 17 security agencies, saying there were only a few.
That is not true -- they all agreed, and there are 17. Beyond that, the heinous thing Trump did was -- in a foreign capital, just prior to a meeting of international leaders, including Vladimir Putin -- to undermine the legitimacy and reliability of our own national security operations. And I don't think he has any idea of how shocking that is -- and how damaging. This whole thing about the election hacking drives him crazy; because, if he has to admit it's true, then in his mind it calls into question the legitimacy of his election.
But at least, this way, he has officially not avoided these issues, even if he doesn't bring them up in his personal meeting with Putin. The truth is, however, all of his Russia comments were about as mild as could be, hardly even a tap on Putin's wrist. So we'll have to wait and see what he actually does in their joint meeting -- if we ever know.